James Bond and the Chopstick Wars

The Chopsticks Wars. That’s what they’re calling it. Two Chinese mobile network operators are competing in the same market. Both have just had an enormous amount of employees escorted in handcuffs out of the country as illegal immigrants. (Read about it on http://www.itweb.co.za)

Now Company A wants to sue Company B for shopping them to Home Affairs. Bear with me; perhaps I am the crazy one here. Company A has broken the law (so has Company B but lets not snap chopsticks). Whether or not Company B shopped them, they have still broken the law. Surely, this not being America, they have no grounds for a legal case?

What punishment should be inflicted on the companies concerned? A fine? Pennies. How about rescinding their BEE status?

Around this whole saga I have heard some fascinating stories aka rumours that make for amusing retelling, but I must admit I have no proof of their validity, so don’t hunt me down like a rhino and chop my horn off okay?

So here is a round-up of some of the best:
1. They were evicted from a swanky office park for slaughtering the tame impala and barbequeing them up for dinner as well as using the second floor as a permanent residence.
2. They offer white-collar criminals the opportunity to work off their jail terms here, in my country, as little more than slave labour. Hence, the whole lack of immigration paperwork thing.

The most high profile was the CEO of a top Telco network who owns Company A. The press say he resigned on the same day as the mass deportations for “personal reasons”, but I heard he was set packing back to whatever European country he came from as an illegal immigrant! It’s nice to know Home Affairs don’t only target poor Zimbabwean refugees.

Now this whole saga segues into the UK phone hacking scandal quiet smoothly. Another story is that one of the companies above won a multi billion Pound tender from British Telecom. They installed the entire telecommunications network for Great Britain. In due course another tender came up and they were asked to set up a dummy network as proof of concept. BT then went through the code line by line and lo and behold they found a little programme running on the side.

“Oh no,” said the service provider, “That’s nothing.”

Turns out it was something, a very big something. Every activity on the BT network was being reported straight back to the Chinese government in some demented James Bond parody. So as long as you have the telephone number of the person you want, you can access their Internet records, SMS, phone calls, bank security, you name it. More than that, the Chinese government could shut down the system with the flick of a switch. BT threw them out and now have to reinstall the whole damn thing. So, every network installed throughout the world by the same company has the same little programme. Welcome to world domination.

I am unsure of my reaction to the phone hacking saga. I couldn’t care less about soccer stars, movie stars and TV wanna-bes getting their phones hacked. I don’t think it is in the public interest, but I don’t honestly give a damn. If News of the World had stopped there, it all would’ve blown over.

Taking on the most powerful family in Europe? Not the brightest idea ever.
Hampering a police investigation into a kidnapping of a child? Criminal.
Listening in and cashing in on the grief of victims of terrorism? Beyond the pale.

Regardless, should Rupert Murdoch be held responsible? Does the head of an international conglomerate really micromanage to that extent? Sure he is a difficult man and a difficult boss who placed enormous pressure on his employees to deliver, but wasn’t it the editor who should be to blame, or that terrible woman with the ghastly hair? In their defense they say all the papers do it. Maybe. But they didn’t get caught.

Despite this latest scandal, Murdoch is the last of the great newspapermen. He may own gossip rags, but he also owns the Times, Fox entertainment and a host of others. If he is forced to sell his network, it will be the end of an era. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not, but it is sad to witness nonetheless. He won’t be remembered now as the man who built the world’s biggest media empire. He’ll be remembered as the idiot who hacked the phones of the Royal Family.

I feel like I am living the through the last days of the Roman Empire, powerless to do anything except watch it topple. The rot has spread so far and goes so deep that it has become a cancer that we cannot cut out. Now we have some idiot who claims to live on a R25 000 a month salary, building a R16 million home complete with a luxury bunker. And they say I have illusions of grandeur? Either he is totally off his rocker or he knows something the rest of us don’t. When asked for comment his spokesmen, who has probably the hardest job in the entire world, exclaimed: “Oh print whatever you want”. Poor Floyd, it can’t be easy continuously trying to make Julius says sound like anything less than the ravings of a madman.

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